Transition Team update January 2024

The Transition Team has spent January working with the Search Committee to provide the information we heard from the congregation over the last year and recommitting to accomplish our charge from a year ago: to help insure the congregation is prepared to welcome a new pastor, and to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible. Right now we are in a planning mode and you can expect to hear more from us in the coming weeks.

Update on the Search Committee for the Settled Pastor

I am pleased to announce the members selected for the Search Committee for our next Settled Pastor. This group of committed, active members will make a strong, spirit-filled team. The 9 members are Marsha Miller, Chris Cunningham, Averyn Payne, Cathy Paine, Evert Slijper, Peter Cadigan, Gretchen Jewett, Barb Aalund (vice-chair), and Tracy Lampman (chair).

The Church Board went through a robust, transparent and inclusive process to select this search committee. 

  • The Board acted on the recommendation of the Transition Team to begin the process of selecting the Search Committee in October. The Board adopted recommendations on scope, sequence, and details of the search process.
  • Dan Close, Board Moderator, put the process in motion in the October 22nd service, presenting the plan to the church from the pulpit and inviting nominations by the congregation.  The process and call for nominations was sent by email to all members and in daily emails.
  • The Board appointed Tracy Lampman as the Chair and Barb Aalund as the vice-chair of the committee.  The Board reviewed the nominations of 30 members for a total of 7 additional spaces.  A vetting team of Board members, Tracy, and Barb was formed to interview and recommend the other members of the search committee.
  • The vetting team created an interview process and completed interviews with all nominees. Based on these interviews, the vetting team made final recommendations to the Board for the 7 remaining positions
  • The Board, in a special board meeting with the vetting team, approved the Search Committee members as listed above. 
  • A Service of Installation will be held on Sunday, January 14th at our regular worship. The Search Committee’s work will begin on that date and is expected to continue for the majority of 2024. 
  • Forums and educational opportunities will give all members the opportunity to learn more about the Search process and give input on the Church Profile and Job Description. 

The committee represents the diversity of gender, age, and ethnicity of the congregation, and has both new and longer-term members of FCC. It is a strong and diverse team – not just a collection of strong individuals. With 30 nominees, we had an abundance of talent and skill sets and chose a team that has all of the skills and experience necessary to lead a successful search.  A summary of the qualities, skills and attributes that guided selection of the committee was sent with the invitation to make nominations, and is available on request.

Thank you to those of you who made nominations, and a special thank you to the well-qualified nominees who were not able to be selected for this service. You will be tapped to lead in other ways. The level of interest in serving is a good sign of engagement in the search process.  

An Ad Hoc committee of ordained ministers in our church has been formed to support the Search Committee.  The Transition Team continues to gather information and input from the congregation on what God is calling us to be and do, and the important roles and qualities for our next settled pastor.   

To have a successful search, we will need your engagement, support and prayers.  We will walk together confidently into the next chapter for our congregation and find a settled pastor to continue the journey with us.

If you have questions, or comments, please feel free to reach out directly to me.

My best,

Tracy Lampman, Search Committee Chair

Transition Team members:

  • Dan Close
  • Clark Compton
  • Bonnie Garcia
  • Stephanie Lonergan
  • Mary Mowday
  • Cathy Paine
  • Kimberley Parzuchowski
  • Martha Pitts, chair
  • Avery Roelof
  • JT Smiedendorf
  • Elly Vandegrift

December 2023 – Calling Conversations

Look for the Calling Conversation table to share your ideas with Transition Team members. Stop by after worship on December 3 and December 10, as well as Wednesday, December 13 at the Soup & Singing gathering. 

Members of the Transition Team will be available for abridged conversations reviewing results from the 2023 all church survey and healing conversations.

You will be invited to participate in expressing your ideas regarding the critical qualities and skills of a settled pastor who will lead us in fulfilling who and what God is calling FCC to be and do in the world.

November 2023- Calling Conversations for the Settled Pastor Search

We are now moving forward into the next phase of our settled pastor search. The Transition Team invites the congregation to attend one of the “Calling Conversations” scheduled during November. These highly interactive group conversations will be larger in size than the recent “Healing Conversations” and will focus on the question: Who and what is God calling us to be and do in the world?

This is your opportunity to contribute your thoughts about the priorities for our congregation. In addition, we will spend about half of the session discussing your ideas regarding the critical qualities and skills of a settled pastor who will lead us in fulfilling our call. Please plan to participate.

September 2023 Report

In September, the Transition Team completed major tasks in the congregational transition process. Many joined us on October 15 in the Wheeler Room for an update on the work we have done and a peek forward at plans for the fall. The three critical tasks completed in September were:

  • Completed the Healing Conversations and provided the church board a summary. (see summary below)
  • Drafted a Process and Timeline for the Pastoral Search to be delivered to the Board. The Board will appoint the Search Team and is committed to a transparent and inclusive process for appointing members.
  • Outlined a plan for the next phase of conversations for this fall: Calling Conversations.

Calling Conversations

The Transition Team shared with the Board comments in six key areas. These six areas will be highlighted in our next set of conversations on what we as members of FCC Eugene are being called to be and do.

  1. Value of connections and community as a part of the congregation
    Activities and Traditions ~ Small group experiences ~ Shared larger group experiences ~ Intergenerational experiences ~ Opportunities to more fully know and be known by others
  2. We are a community of Spiritual Seekers
    Shared values as progressive Christians ~ Strong worship services are critical ~ Intellectually and spiritually challenging sermons based on shared theological values is critical; translate scripture to our lives in ways that sustain through the week ~ Spiritual Development ~ Living Christ’s teachings of service and care for neighbors and the world
  3. Importance of having strong participation of families with children
    Joy ~ Kids must know they matter, and have a community ~ An intergenerational spiritual home for children, families and all who worship ~ Support in parenting is needed ~ Concern that an aging congregation cannot be sustained
  4. Need for strong lay leadership
    Speaking truth in love is critical to our success ~ Avoid making the same mistakes in management of the church ~ Congregational participation is key ~ We must own our own future
  5. Demonstrations of Love and Care for each other in difficult times
    Pastoral Care ~ Congregational Care ~ Programming and support for members in their Third Act ~ Meal-Trains, prayer chain, congregational visitation
  6. Make a difference in our local community
    Join other spiritual communities in Social Justice Work ~ Impact on homeless issues ~ Build a more just and loving community

June 2023 – Healing Conversations

Starting in June 2023, the Transition Team hosted a number of Healing Conversations for the congregation at First Congregational Church. We have celebrated each participant’s high-points from their time at FCC, and have deeply heard concerns, hurts, and issues that are holding us back as individuals from wholly committing to moving forward in this transition. We hosted small group discussions, limited to 10 or fewer participants, so that significant discussion could take place. We used Appreciative Inquiry techniques to engage those interested in participating.

Though the focus was on the individual, we took notes for an overview to the Board and to the congregation summarizing the areas of celebration, the areas of concern, and messages that became clear in the conversations. Church staff and the Board have taken significant steps to address areas that multiple members identified as needing immediate attention. The work is not complete, but significant progress is meeting needs and we will continue inviting participation from members, new and old.

  • Continuing the Board’s work on transparent leadership and engagement of congregation members in the work and business of the church.
  • Developing a plan and initiating the work to provide Pastoral/Congregational care across all age and demographics while developing and implementing longer term processes and programs. This includes hiring staff to offer programming for children.
  • Revitalizing programs that allow individuals to get to know each other outside worship including Dinners for Eight, Companions in Christ, Seekers, and other programs.
  • Finding and engaging those who wish to serve and were not finding an appropriate place.

Sharing the Draft Transition Plan for Discussion and Revisions

The Team is finalizing a transition plan to guide us through the next 18 months and hopes to share that plan for conversation in June. Our goal is to identify the work to accomplish as a congregation during this time of transition. We are working to recognize and address the polarities Pastor JT has spoken about in his sermons.

  • Build a plan with a timeline with milestones to keep us on track
  • Ensure that the timeline has sufficient flexibility to hear the congregation’s needs and follow the Spirit’s leading. Pastor JT refers to this as Chiros Time.
  • Move toward the hiring of a settled Senior Pastor
  • Provide time for significant congregational conversations to identify and commit (or recommit) to our shared values.
  • Prepare ourselves to move successfully into the future with an understanding of what God is calling us to do and be.
  • Name and address the issues that have kept us from being the best progressive Christian congregation we can be.

Transition Path

These Healing Conversations are the first phase of 3 sets of conversations planned as part of FCC’s transition. In the fall, we will begin Calling Conversations to seek to find common understanding of what Spirit is calling us to be and do in the world. The final set of conversations will begin after the first of the year, exploring the structures and processes we need in the future.

Several people have asked for a one-page road map to help understand the Transition Plan. The team has put this together, and the Board has reviewed it as an outline for our future actions. We include it below with a few notes to consider as you review it.

As Pastor JT reminded us, we are working with a timeline but will move forward in God’s time. We will move together, which may take longer than anticipated. So, the timeline and planning provide for flexibility.

Plans are subject to change with each phase of the transition, building on previous phases. Discussions in the Calling Conversations will be rooted partly in what we hear in the Healing Conversations. While we have a plan, we are open to the call to follow the leading of Spirit and the leading of our members.

Identify and Integrate Past Discussions into Our Work

Over the past few years, search committees, discernment groups, and organizational study groups have done significant work on behalf of the congregation. In this time of transition, it will be important not to recreate that work but to review the information generated by these groups and incorporate it into the work of our transition. We will compile the reports from this work to inform the conversations in phases 2 and 3.